Since California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights, a new law limiting the power of banks to foreclose, came into effect on January 1, homeowners in Richmond and Oakland have taken a more proactive stance in resisting foreclosures, protesting inside banks at Wells Fargo braches across the East Bay and forcing the bank to reschedule home sales.
Following a series of such protests at its branches in Richmond and Oakland in recent weeks, Wells Fargo last week invited more than 8,500 of its mortgage clients to a workshop the bank said was meant to help borrowers keep their homes.
Tanya Dennis, one of the residents that protested at Wells Fargo’s branch in Oakland’s Fruitvale area last week, said community organizers had realized that banks were less likely to sell the foreclosed homes if the residents had community support.
“The banks do not listen to you as an individual, but as a group, you’re powerful and I am living proof of that,” Dennis said. Dennis’ home was foreclosed on upon in 2010, but she was able to keep her home after she refused to move out and negotiated with the bank, she said.
Like Dennis, Gaylynne Hudson, a former Oakland Unified School District teacher, has been on the verge of losing her home since 2012. Hudson is currently involved in negotiations with the bank.
“I have been trying to save my house for a good part of the year and even before that I was trying to get a modification,” Hudson said. Living in fear of losing one’s home “is unnerving,” she said. “It’s unsettling and frankly it’s downright scary.”
“I don’t think it’s in the bank’s best interests to take my home. I will be protesting definitely,” Hudson said. “I am hoping that there will be some help coming, because I really don’t want to lose this home.”
Confronted by protesters over Hudson’s home and five other properties under foreclosure in Oakland, Wells Fargo pushed back the sale of Hudson’s home by another three weeks to February 25. This is this third time that the bank has deferred the sale following protests inside its banks on or before the day of the sale.
In a statement, Wells Fargo spokesperson Mariana Phipps said the bank continues to look into ways to help Hudson and other homeowners. “Wells Fargo continues to look at home retention options for Ms. Hudson,” Phipps said.